RENSSELAER — Jose Richard Cantu, who faces a long list of criminal charges in Jasper County, spent the weekend behind bars in Tennessee.
Cantu, 37, of Rensselaer, was found on Friday, Nov. 12, in Hickman County, Tenn., in possession of a stolen vehicle. Drug paraphernalia was also found in the vehicle and an unidentified woman was found traveling with Cantu.
Both Cantu and the woman were taken into custody on the Jasper County warrants by Hickman County deputies. Among the many charges Cantu faces include a domestic battery with a deadly weapon charge, a Level 6 felony that stems from an incident on Sept. 20.
Cantu also faces local charges in Hickman County.
According to the Rensselaer Police Department, officers responded to a 911 call on Sept. 20 from a female who advised that Cantu had held her against her will, battered her and pointed a gun at her while in a vehicle. The victim was able to get out of the vehicle, and Cantu drove off.
After a search by RPD, the vehicle was found unoccupied a few miles east of Rensselaer in a cornfield.
For that incident, Cantu faces criminal confinement with a deadly weapon (Level 3 felony), intimidation (Level 5), strangulation (Level 6), pointing a firearm (Level 6), criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon (Level 6), resisting law enforcement (Level 6), institutional criminal mischief (Level 6) and reckless driving, a misdemeanor.
Prior to his arrest out of state, Cantu wiggled free from a pair of local police pursuits over the past two weeks, with last Tuesday afternoon’s pursuit his most recent escape.
According to Newton County Police, both the Newton County Drug Task Force and the Morocco Police Department attempted to stop a black Dodge Charger driven by Cantu just outside Morocco.
But Cantu fled instead and an 11-minute pursuit through Beaver and Washington townships in Newton County resulted in Cantu crashing his vehicle into the Iroquois River near the Indiana/Illinois state line at County Road 700 West.
A female passenger in the vehicle escaped without injury while Cantu fled the scene.
Several law enforcement agencies, including a helicopter from Lake County, searched the area but were unable to locate Cantu. Dive teams from area fire departments confirmed there were no other occupants in the vehicle.
Police learned later that Cantu had made it out of the area.
Among the agencies assisting at Tuesday’s pursuit and aftermath included Indiana State Police, Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Rensselaer Police Department, Jasper County Sheriff’s Department, Newton County EMS, Kentland Fire Department, Lake Township Fire, Morocco Fire and Newton County Dispatch.
In late afternoon on Nov. 1, Cantu led the Rensselaer Police Department and Jasper County Sheriff deputies in a pursuit after he was seen driving a pick-up truck outside Rensselaer.
When Cantu saw he was being pursued by a Rensselaer officer, he drove off the roadway and through a field of corn, causing significant damage to crops, police said. A short time later, the vehicle he was driving was found abandoned on a county road southeast of Rensselaer near State Road 16.
It is believed that Cantu took a dirt bike out of the back of the truck and drove off. He faces additional charges from this incident as well. An investigation is ongoing as police look for individuals who may have assisted in Cantu avoiding an arrest.
The Rensselaer Police Department would like to thank Hickman County police as well as Jasper County, Newton County, Lake County and White County sheriff departments for their assistance. RPD would also like to thank the Indiana State Police and Monon Police for following up leads.
“We also want to thank the numerous people who called giving information on Mr. Cantu’s possible locations,” RPD said in a press release.